Begaye vetoes intended change to veterans council, public input to be considered

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Nov. 2, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye vetoed legislation intended to change the Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council (NNVAC) to a board of commissioners, citing the Eastern Agency Veterans Organization’s strong opposition to the bill.

“The bill is divisive and doesn’t represent a unified voice,” Begaye said. “Instead, it highlights the perspective of two select veterans’ organizations while completely dismissing a resolution by Eastern Agency Veterans Organization that states they were not conferred with and adamantly opposes the legislation.”

Significantly, the Eastern Navajo Veterans Organization represents 31 chapter veterans’ organizations.

Attached to his veto justification memorandum, Begaye presented the Eastern Navajo Veterans Organization’s resolution that calls upon the Health, Education and Human Services Committee (HEHSC), the Law and Order Committee, the Naabik’iyati Committee and the Navajo Nation Council to disapprove of the legislation.

Sponsored by Honorable Kee Allen Begay (Low Mountain/Many Farms/Nazlini/Tachee/Blue Gap/Tselani/Cottonwood), the legislation intended to replace the NNVAC with a board of commissioners established under the executive branch but with legislative oversight by HEHSC.

Board members would be selected by their respective chapter veteran organizations but confirmed by HEHSC.

“The legislation proposes to expand the limited authority of the NNVAC to properly execute the needs of Navajo veterans,” Begaye said. “Yet, aside from minimal structural changes and delegating HEHSC as oversight, the purpose of the board of commissioners remains the same, which is to advise to the president and the Council on veteran’s matters.”

The Office of the President conducted numerous public outreach meetings to solicit the critical input of Navajo veterans to help develop the Navajo Veterans Act, which passed Feb. 13, 2016. The passing of the Navajo Veterans Act implemented the NNVAC.

“A veteran’s advisory body should be unifying and equally representative of all Navajo veterans from all agencies,” President Begaye said. “Any modifications to the current Veterans Advisory Council should be done with input from veterans from all five agencies. It’s obvious that certain agencies oppose the legislation. There needs to be more public outreach on this matter.”

Information provided by the Office of the President/Vice President

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